Father’s Day is extra special for TV presenter Simon Thomas. He tells Pete Wooding that despite being left to bring up his son alone after his wife, Gemma, died suddenly, his faith has become much stronger
Former Sky Sports and Blue Peter presenter Simon Thomas faced the worst possible moment in his life when he had to tell his eight-year-old son Ethan that his mother had died.
In November 2017 Simon’s world fell apart when his wife Gemma died very suddenly just three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
“I would never wish that kind of moment on my worst enemy because it is absolutely heartbreaking for yourself and then to have to go and break the news to your son,” says Simon.
“I remember Ethan came into the hospital twice that day to see her and she was unconscious. There was no final conversation between myself and Gemma or Ethan and his mum. Before she passed away, he’d come home with someone from our family.
HAPPY FAMILY… Simon with his late wife, Gemma, and their son, Ethan
“After I was told she’d died that day at the hospital, the whole way home I knew I couldn’t delay telling him. It’s heartbreaking because any parent knows you want to protect your children – you want the best for them, you don’t want to be telling them something like this when you know that when they hear it you know that their world in that moment is going to feel like it’s fallen apart.
“Life for him now is forever changed. From that moment on that Friday night his world changed completely.”
The one thing that sustained Simon through this traumatic time was his deeply held Christian faith, which he says he never lost despite what he was going through.
“If I let go of my faith then all hope goes,” he says. “I’ve got the hope of seeing Ethan grow up and be everything that both me and his mum would have wanted him to be. But in terms of that eternal hope, we know that this isn’t the end and that one day we will be reunited in heaven and we will see each other again, and Ethan can see his mother again. If you take that out of the equation, then death just seems utterly hopeless.
“So I have to hold onto it but it’s been a massive struggle because something like this forces you to ask really big questions about who is God and what he’s about? Did he make this happen? I was very angry and for the first few months I would wake up very early and go down to the end of the garden and just rant to God, asking him why he allowed this to happen…